President’s Welcome

The Waldo Tower Historic Society was founded with its sole mission to preserve this magnificent landmark.  The Waldo Water Tower is located in Tower Park at 75th Street & Holmes.  The society has eight board members including the officers and has full support from Councilman John Sharp, Councilman Scott Taylor, Water Department, Parks & Recreation Department, the Southtown Council, Waldo Area Business Association and several homes associations.

The Waldo Water Tower is 40 feet in diameter, 135 feet tall, was built in 1920 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   Kansas City’s first water landmark was declared by the American Water Works Association in 1975.  The Tower was listed in the World Book Encyclopedia from 1929 to 1946 as an early example of a continuously poured steel reinforced concrete structure.   One of the largest reinforced concrete standpipes ever attempted was built due to Kansas City’s innovative and challenging use of this construction method. This one million gallon, steel reinforced concrete standpipe served the residents of Kansas City living between State Line and Troost – from 52nd Street to the southern city limits.  It was retired in 1957.

A feasibility study was the essential first step to determine the needed repairs.  It was graciously funded by the Kansas City Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) and managed through the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department.  The assessment was performed on March 30, 2010 by Treanor Architects and their preservation professionals.  We greatly appreciate the Sixth District approving funding of Phase One.  However, this is only the beginning of the improvements of the Waldo Tower.

Our future plans for the tower include an elevator with an observation floor at the balcony level and lighting, possibly with unobtrusive solar panels.  Landscaped walkways with ADA accommodations, flower gardens and historical interpretative plaques or signage will enhance the tower.  Stately wrought iron, for security and added curb appeal, will replace the barbed wire fence.  A safer and prominent entrance into Tower Park, with a larger accessible road to the Tower area and parking facilities are also part of the future needs.

We thank the community for coming together to preserve this unique landmark, reminiscent of a castle turret.  It is the beacon of Waldo and an inspiration to Kansas City.

Thank you,
Kurtis Marinez
President
kurtiskc@gmail.com
Home: 816-268-0656
Cell: 816-985-2122

2 thoughts on “President’s Welcome

  1. Dear Mr. Marinez,

    I would like to know a little more about the “pump-house” located just east of the foot of the Water Tower “standpipe” (WT). I would also like to know a little more structural information about the WT, for example:

    1) how thick are the cylindrical walls?

    2) are the walls of uniform thickness from bottom to top?

    3) does Kansas City have any old photographs taken of the Waldo area (north) from the vantage point atop the Water Tower itself?

    4) the pumphouse I am assuming is still required to “boost” the main water line pressure?

    5) to show my ignorance, why are water-towers no longer necessary? It would seem to me that to use one would make economic sense over the long haul? Why not let the “falling weight” of the water, create a constant head pressure, rather than operating probably six to eight, 440 volt three phase electric motor driven pumps, 24/7 and probably 365 days per year? I saw inside the pump house once when they were changing out the units. I seem to remember that they were inordinately large and very tall at that location. I could not see into the hole, but judging by their size and length of cable used, they must have gone down at least a good 20 feet to be put into service.

    There is a painting located inside the former Goppert Bank at 71st street and Wornall Road (next to the entrance to the “vault” that depicts the intersection in and around the “trolley tracks” and 63rd Street. I remember correctly, this painting shows a segment of the apple-orchards that once used to cover a significant portion of the “high ground” ridge that tends to run north and south along the Holmes Road corridor between Troost Avenue on the east and Main Street on the west.

    Is it correct that the “homestead” located on the north west corner of Holmes Road and 71st Street was the first house built in this “Johnny Appleseed” area of south KC? I met the madam of that house once in the early 1980′s at a “progressive dinner party” event a neighbor friend of mine set-up and helped arrange on our block, just one street north of 71st. (70th Terrace between Cherry and Holmes. I remember this female person/homeowner of the corner house was well into her 90′s at the time.

    I also seem to remember, hearing (overhearing) a conversation that originally there was a much larger, circular, low height native rock wall that perimeterized the Holmes Road (north-south), and 71st Street (east-west) intersection. The only remaining segment of that structure lies adjacent to Holmes Road and 71st street intersection on the north west corner “lot”. It can be seen at once that this lot is of unusual large dimension and lies contiguous to the assumed “property line” for the distinguished corner house on the north west side of Holmes and 71st Street.

    This is my feeble memory of what I think I “may” have overheard during the evenings conversations that others had with this person. I was too shy to introduce myself to her in person a second time, to talk to her myself. I do know for a fact that my house, located at 606 East 70th terrace, was before its construction sometime in 1928-29, was once part of an apple orchard business of rather significant dimensions, owned by this person (or one of her relatives living at that house location).

    This same area had a very high Jewish population in the 1950′s (perhaps even earlier, pre-WWII and after)?. By the middle 1980′s most of the Jews had either moved further south and west, or were “too old” to move. My neighbor Ms. Rose House was in her late 90′s when she finally moved to a nursing home. I really liked her. I think I must have reminded her of Mr. “Ira” House (long since deceased, way before I moved into the neighborhood). Shortly before she moved away, she invited me over to look through his things, old clothes, and take whatever I wanted, ties, the long skinny ones popular in the 1950′s, his dark-chocolate brown “fedora”, that I still wear today. He was a shorter and slighter individual than I, so that’s about all I could wear. I remember the rather funny set of “cracked dishes”, who would want a set of cracked dishes I asked myself? It was many years later that I learned about chametz, kashrut in general, and two sets of dishes!

    Rose had a bunch of old books from the “old country”, most of them written in yiddish. I took and donated the books to the Beth Israel Abraham and Volner synagogue.

    Well, that’s about all I have retelling wise about the area just north of the WT Park.

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